Philippine pole vault ace EJ Obiena qualified on Saturday (Philippine time) for the final of the 2022 World Championships in Athletics at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Aiming to give the Philippines their first-ever World Athletics medal, he cleared 5.75 meters on his second attempt to advance to the final along with 11 others, but not after some scary moments.
The Asian record holder needed two attempts to clear 5.5 meters and then broke the 5.65 mark. Just like his Group B comrades, he also missed the 5.75 mark on their first attempts. They all passed their second try.
Only Oleg Zernikel of Germany completed the challenge in a single attempt to enter the final. Tokyo Olympics gold and silver medalist Christopher Nilsen cleared the 5.75 with relative ease.
The final takes place on Monday morning (Philippine time) with 26-year-old Obiena bringing with him the confidence and experience of the past two years to set his own Asian mark of 5.93 meters.
As Obiena looks to improve on his personal best, Duplantis, 22, an Olympic champion and world indoor champion, will be looking to deliver another emotional performance.
After winning the world indoor crown earlier this year, Duplantis managed to set a world record of 6.20 meters.
Current world No. 2 Christopher Nilsen of the United States and his friend and training partner, 2016 Olympics bronze medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil, are also making things difficult for Obiena.